Luxury used car sales may be allowed at Naperville car wash
By Hank Beckman For The Sun March 7, 2013 1:58PM
Updated: April 9, 2013 11:40AM
Naperville Planning and Zoning Commission Wednesday gave a positive recommendation for a plan for luxury used car sales at an existing car wash facility near the northeast corner of 75th Street and Naper Boulevard.
The vote overrode city staff’s objection to the plan for Finish Line Hand Car Wash and Detail Center. The issue was the subject of a prolonged debate. Moreover, several conditions were attached to the petition to win approval.
“Staff did not feel that this was a compatible use with this location,” Community Planner Clint Smith said in recommending denial of the conditional use permit needed.
The property is zoned B2 (Community Shopping Center) and was already granted a conditional use permit to operate the car wash.
Staff recommended that the Ogden Avenue corridor with its B3 zoning — and numerous car dealers — would be more appropriate for car sales.
Beyond the land use issue, staff has concerns that increasing traffic in an already congested area would be dangerous, especially in the area around 75th Street and Naper Boulevard.
Cross entrance access to the shopping center directly east would make the project feasible, but staff’s report indicated that an elevated area between the two properties might make that solution unworkable.
The petitioner, Bill Loumbardis, already operates a hand car wash business at the site and estimates that 80 percent of his car sales would be Internet-based and total about 20 vehicles per month.
“If we have more than three customers a day, I’d be surprised,” he said. “It’s way underutilized as it is ... it makes sense.”
But commissioners still harbored concerns about traffic at the intersection.
“If this were 1986, I would be fully in favor of this,” Plan Commissioner Bob Williams said, going on to point out that growth since then has made the area already difficult for motorists to navigate.
He said that “75th (Street) is not safe the way it is.”
Commissioner Patricia Meyer said that she was “very hesitant” and noted that the cross access to the shopping center lot would be helpful.
Other commissioners were more receptive.
“I would be more concerned ... if there were to be a greater number of cars,” Kevin Coyne said.
The final vote was 4 to 2 in favor, with Meyer and Tom Dabareiner in opposition.
What might have swayed the other commissioners was testimony from a nearby resident and the owner of the previous business at the location of the car wash.
“We had a number of problems with previous operators of that facility,” Roger Brown, president of Hobson Oaks Homeowners Association, said.
Brown said that when Loumbardis took over the property, he made several improvements, including draining standing water, getting rid of derelict vehicles and patching holes in the pavement.
“Our concern is what might happen to this property (if the petition were denied),” he said.
Joe Fajdich, who operated a mechanized car wash on the site until construction on 75th Street drove him out of business, spoke passionately on Loumbardis’ behalf.
“It took me down financially,” he said of the construction. “I did 548 (cars) in one day.”
Coyne supported the petition, saying, “I haven’t heard any compelling reason to not allow this.”
But Smith restated staff’s objections, saying, “We’re just not comfortable at this point.”
The motion passed with the condition that the petitioner will revisit the idea of cross-access with the shopping center, promised to not deliver vehicles by tractor-trailers, would restrict operating hours, keep inventory in back of the business and allow no repair or body work on the premises.
“I don’t know why they’re giving me a hard time,” Loumbardis said after the vote.
The issue will now go to the City Council for discussion.